Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


American dream

Filed under : Life in general
On May 21, 2009
At 7:35 pm
Comments : 4

Like most people who are employed in this economy, I’m doing the work of three people. Myself, a person they laid off, and a person who we really should hire but can’t because no one’s in the mood to buy anything. Particularly things that you can’t eat or fuel your car with. This is one of the reasons I haven’t been blogging a lot. By the time I finish with my ten hour workday, my brain is too fried to do anything but lie in a vegetative state on the sofa watching Nick Swisher hit the ball out of the park for some kid in the hospital.

Of course I feel lucky to have a job and every time I see the person whose job I’m also doing show up on my IM list, I feel awful because it’s months now and she still hasn’t found anything. I have to laugh at the British phrase for laid off, “made redundant.” Of course she’s redundant! Why, clearly I can do her job too now that I no longer have a life. And I, who do nothing but work, am undoubtedly the fortunate one. I tend to forget that.

Just now, while I was toiling away here at work (I never see the first innings… baseball is always six innings long for me unless it’s a weekend game. They seem to have nine then!), the cleaning lady came in to empty my trash cans (two! recycle and regular). She’s really too gorgeous to be a janitress, even in her shapeless powder blue uniform, and she wears this lovely, fragrant perfume that you can smell all the way down the hall so you know she’s coming. And she ALWAYS smiles. She doesn’t speak much English but her happy smile says a lot. She feels lucky. And as she thanks me for letting her take my trash, me in my comfy chair, doing nothing more strenuous than filling in a spreadsheet, with my big window and my designer sofa and my chic glass-topped desk, I do feel very, very lucky. Because if it were me, I’d hate me. The me that is sitting typing this, that is. I mean, why am I here and she there?

Once upon a time, my grandmother slept with two of her sisters in one bed in a tenement flat on the Lower East Side. I don’t really know what her parents did for a living. But I thank them and all my great-grandparents for doing menial things so I could sit here. I know they uprooted themselves and moved to a strange land so their children could have a better life, even if theirs wasn’t always so great. I know they worked hard for their children and grandchildren and I am certain that they dreamed of me, nearly one hundred years later, sitting uptown in my important office selling 78 RPM records about bitches & hos.

Donna Summer – She Works Hard For The Money


4 Comments for this post

  1. Maureen says:


    Sorry you’re having to work so much.

    I’ve been pissy about things going on at my job lately and i am very very very glad I read this, so thank you for posting it.

    And for reminding me of my great-grandmom, who worked in a button factory during the day (under someone else’s name so they wouldn’t know she was Italian) and mended hosiery in her kitchen at night.

    Some extra hours in an office with 6 windows and a fancy leather chair isn’t so bad after all.

  2. Bonzee says:

    What a wonderful way to put things in perspective.

    And thanks to B.Ver for posting this on W.W. so I’d know to look for it. 🙂

  3. Irishcardinal says:

    A very lovely column, Becca. we only slept 2 to a bed with siblings when I was a kid, but I have no doubt my parents slept at least 3 to a bed, with 8 kids in each family. I too am annoyed at silly things going on at work with having to share jobs. I am lucky to still have one, in a nice air conditioned building whee I still have time to play on message boards.

  4. Becca says:

    Thanks for the nice comments, all. It seems like we’re all in the same boat these days.

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